From a young age, I always wanted to have a meaningful death. As oddly depressing as it sounds, I would dream about my last words, trying to articulate the most epic of discourses within a few sentences, restricted by my body succumbing to the imaginary fatal wounds I had received for my beliefs. As I got older though, I started to really think about what was worth dying for.
There were some matters that I had immediately believed valid; dying for a family member, or someone who could not protect themselves, was instantly doable. Other than that however, it was hazy; how would I know I was the “hero”? This came at a time when I realized that the most dreadful of humans, were heroes to someone; either themselves, or to some terrible people who had believed in the lies (Hitler would dominate these thoughts; his ability to manipulate was only as effective as the people let him).
So when I decided to follow Jesus, the significance was not lost upon me. Would I be willing to die for what I believed in?
As someone who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ, the consequences of publicly expressing that statement in this modern world, are layered and complicated. To some, this is synonymous to a purposeful condemnation of everyone who does not share my beliefs. To others, it is a “brave” and “righteous” action, an action that has apparently been suppressed and denied by modern society.
As I was writing this, I realized that there was simply an overwhelming amount of topics to be discussed with this. So, with great mercy and grace, I have decided to break this into parts; it gives some freedom in the representation of various ideas and perspectives.
Unfortunately, this separation, this distinction within the people of Earth, has historically caused conflicts of various kinds, for thousands of years. Obviously, this is not something that is exclusive to Christianity; in fact, this is a habit that humans have been doing for thousands of years.
Whether it is by the color of the skin, or the perceived level of “intelligence” or culture, humanity has a fascination with the idea of exclusivity.
If “Christians” were to really boil down why they say horribly harsh and disrespectful words, whether it be the highly publicized and vulgar protests of the Westboro Baptist Church; or the whispers of gossip and condemnation that most people ascribe to, many would simply say that they are “forgiven”.
Some, not all, would say that they have a right to say what they feel is right, highly inflammatory or not, to try and “save someone’s soul” or to “defend Jesus’ honor”. This can be in the aforementioned protests at funerals for those who have died in the Armed Forces, or can be in the treatment of those who choose not care about Jesus, at that moment.
This wholesale allowance of abuse and hatred in the name of Jesus, is not worth dying for.
The judgment and persecution of those who don't align with who we are, is not worth dying for.
What is worth dying for however, is the calling that we put other people before ourselves.
Looking at what Jesus says are the two greatest commandments, is in the Book of Matthew, in Chapter 22, verses 34 to 40. The interaction recorded is as such:
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”. Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV)
This is the Jesus that I know, the Jesus that gets lost in the mess of politics and religious frauds; this was a man that believed in people more than wealth, power, or influence.
Jesus was a man that would eat and drink with the most undesirable of the community; the traitors and the poor and the morally absent.
Jesus was a man that believed the pleasure of today, was not worth the pain of tomorrow.
That is Jesus the man. The belief that Jesus was more than that, comes with believing who he was as a man.
Because at the end of the day, we don't know what lies beyond the horizon of life; which means our death is meaningful.
I realized that I am either the greatest of fools, to believe something so fantastic as a God who created the Universe who wants a relationship with me, or I am living the calling of a hero, bringing people back to the arms of the Father, the Creator by the love that I live out.
That is the next topic; something that the Apostle Paul said which resonates with me to this day, his own admittance that our faith is dependent on what happens after life.